by Inigo del Castillo in New Photography on Wednesday 11 June 2014

Fascinated by the rockin’ hot bods you see in magazine covers and tv shows? Do you set your expectations on beauty based on those images by the media? Photographer Gracie Hagen of Gracie Hagen Photography makes us rethink the concept of ‘attractiveness’ by showing us that everyone is equally beautiful and equally unflattering in her series and book ‘Illusions of the Body’.

In this exclusive interview, she talks more about the series and her upcoming book of the same name. [read our original post about Gracie Hagen here.]

What was the inspiration behind ‘Illusions of the Body’?
I was thinking of ways to try and incorporate some of my friends into series they wouldn’t normally fit into. Body acceptance and not taking yourself too seriously has always been something I thought is important to talk about as well.

Since the theme for the series is ‘attractiveness’, how would you define it?
Confidence, the ability to be empathetic and knowing oneself.

Looking at the images, posture played a big role in altering the attractiveness of the models. Would you say that correct posture is another message the series is trying to teach?
That’s a conclusion a lot of people have come to. It wasn’t my intent to tackle that issue when I was taking the photos. The intended message was: This series was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like.

Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering. That contrast would help a lot of body image issues we as a culture have.

Imagery in the media is an illusion built upon lighting, angles, and Photoshop. People can look extremely attractive under the right circumstances and two seconds later transform into something completely different.

Within the series I tried to get a range of body types, ethnicities and genders to show how everyone is a different shape and size; there is no ‘normal’. Each photo was taken with the same lighting and the same angle.

Celebrate your shapes, sizes, and the odd contortions your body can get itself into. The human body is a weird and beautiful thing.

We noticed a glaring disparity between the ratio of women to men in your series. How difficult has it been to recruit male models willing to pose nude? Did it get any easier after the series became viral?
When the series went viral, there was only one male in the series, my boyfriend. Finding people to be in the series was hard with extremely limited resources. Once the series got more traction people were asking to be involved.

Now the ratio of male to female is more balanced. There is a total of 41 people in the series. 24 of them are online, 17 of them are only available in the book, Illusions of the Body. The series was a product of passion on the part of the artist and volunteers.

If there seems to be certain body types, genders, ethnicities, etc that are underrepresented, it is because that type of person has not chosen to be a part of it. I have not intentionally excluded anyone.

You plan to continue this provocative series. What should we expect from the fresh batch of photos?
The series is finished, it took a year to compile all of the images & make the book. You can view the additional 17 images not released online, in the full color 94 page coffee table book, Illusions of the Body.

Purchase it by going to IllusionsOfTheBody.com